Archive for December, 2010

Chainsaw Cheerleader presents a bias review: Happy Fucking New Year

Posted in Uncategorized on December 31, 2010 by chainsawcheerleader

The year 2010 saw an interesting array of films that drew a clear line in the sand between awesome and awful. With remakes and sequels abound, some fared better than others (Kick-Ass, Inception, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood). While the majority wasted film and the audience’s valuable time (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The A-Team, A Nightmare on Elm Street). The end of one year may be seen as a joyous occasion when films like Legion and Johan Hex are largely disappointments. With films like Thor, Paul, and The Eagle coming to theaters in 2011, the new year seems promising in concerns to film. After all that is what the new year is about, fresh starts.

The ushering in of a new year may be about starting over but the past has a mighty pull when it comes to film. It is difficult to forget about the movies that shaped you childhood or stirred a passion within you. It is movies such as these that prove that regardless of  the year, some films should be embraced despite the times. While many New Years films are about the happily ever after or the epic disaster, three highly respectable films have used New Years as an important tool to set up scenes that have now become legend. These three films are Ghostbusters II, The Godfather II, and The Shining.

So, put on a silly hat, grab a kazoo, and crack open the alcohol. These are three movies that help show the importance that New Years has served in film.

Ghostbusters II (1989)

“Here’s something off the request line from Liberty Island. We’re gonna squeeze some New Year’s juice from ya, Big Apple!” -Peter Venkman

Plot:

Taking place five years after the Ghostbusters team saved New York City from a supernatural evil, the group is now out of business due to lawsuits from the event. With the discovery of a river of ectoplasm under the city of New York, the Ghostbusters are soon back in business as Peter Venkman’s ex-girlfriend’s infant son is stolen to be the new host of a malevolent tyrant.

Ghostbusters 2 was a commercially successful sequel. Despite this, many hardcore fans of the original Ghostbusters film considered the sequel to be a disappointment. For many critics, they share the same complaints. While some believe that the script was bland and others thought that the film strained for laughs, Ghostbusters II is still considered a great film by those who would rather be entertained then complain. Most of this entertainment comes from the second half of the film. As the film counts down the days toward New Years, the ghostly encounters soon come to a climax on the eve of the new year.

Some may consider that the main villain of Ghostbusters II, Vigo would be no match for the killer hell hounds of the first Ghostbusters. It may be difficult to find a man who jumps out of a painting to be frightening but scares are not the point of the film. Call it nostalgia or purely love for the entire cast and concept of the film but it is difficult to dislike a sequel that one has grown up on. Even after twenty-one years, many of the films elements are still very relevant, Bill Murray is still a wonderful comedian and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man will always be one of  the most delicious and evil movie monster ever.

The Godfather: Part II (1974)



“I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!” -Michael Corleone

Plot:

The Godfather: Part II explores the beginning and the continuation of the organized crime syndicate, the Corleone family. While exploring the families roots, the film focuses on Vito Corleone’s voyage from Sicily to New York and the building of his empire. Vito’s grown son, Michael is then shown expanding the family’s business from Nevada to Cuba, while having to deal with disloyalty and murder.

While considered one of the best movies ever made (which is a very small club to belong to), The Godfather: Part II does what only a handful of sequels have been able to accomplish. It has successfully carried the story from the first film into the second and faithfully expanding upon it. The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II have come to symbolize the zenith of film making from America. Seen as the finest of crime family dramas, The Godfather saga is more about those involved with or family members of the Corleone’s, then about crime. One of the best examples of this takes place during the peak of their success, the Corleone family is celebrating New Year’s Eve in Havana. After confirming Michael’s worst fears, his brother Fredo accidently proves that he is the traitor in the family. In one of the cinema’s most iconic scenes, Michael embraces Fredo while mournfully uttering one of the most well known quotes in the mobster film genre, “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart.” Drawing, Fredo to him, Michael gives him the notorious kiss of death.

The Shining (1980)



“Great party, isn’t it?” -Injured Guest

Plot:

Jack Torrance, an out of work writer, takes a job as a winter caretaker of an isolated hotel. Bringing his wife and son, Jack slowly slips into insanity as the hands of an evil presents and the former  guests of the hotel. Using his telepathic gift, known as the shining, Jack’s son sees visions of past and future murders in the hotel. It is this gift that may help save his mother and himself.

The Shining takes place during the majority of the winter season. The film does not give specific dates and does not show the celebrating of holidays. The only time during the film where the viewer is given some idea of when the movie is taking place occurs during Jack’s stroll into the Gold Room. After having been driven to madness, it does not seem odd to him that a New Year’s Eve masquerade ball is taking place with ghosts that were former guests of the hotel. This is an important scene because Jack is convinced by a waiter that he needs to “correct” his family. It is after this conversation that Jack will go on to try to kill his wife and child.

The Shining is a brilliant movie. It is one of the very few movies that have been adapted from a Steven King book successfully. It is filled with quotable lines and scenes that have been paid tribute to in many other movies, television shows, and cartoons. The Shining also stars a wonderful cast. The most notable is, of course Jack Nicholson. Nicholson has the ability to show a wide array of emotions with facial expressions. His best by far, is insanity. It is this insane expression and manic laugh that help define The Shining.

Alternative Mentions:

54 (1998) *200 Cigarettes (1999)*2012 (2009)*Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)*Bloody New Year(1987)*Boogie Nights (1997)*Cloverfield (2007)*End of Days (1999)*Entrapment (1999)*Gridlock’d (1997)*Jaws: The Revenge (1987)*Ocean’s Eleven (2001)*Money Train (1995)*New Year’s Day (2001)*New Year’s Evil(1980)*Night of the Comet (1984)*Strange Days (1995)*Terror Train (1980)*The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)*The Poseidon Adventure (1972)*The Signal (2007)*Trading Places (1983)

Honorable Classic Mentions:

An American in Paris (1951)*Holiday (1938)*Holiday Inn (1942)*New Year Sacrifice (1956)*Sunset Boulevard (1950)*The Apartment (1960)*The Gold Rush (1925)

Happy New Year!

Side Note: Yes, I purposely left out Bridget Jones’s Dairy, Sex and the City, and When Harry Met Sally. Considering these titles, I believe no explanation is necessary. Other such romcoms and romantic films will always be excluded regardless of topic.

Sabbath Reviews: Following (1998)

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2010 by Sabbath


Directed and Written by: Christopher Nolan

In 2010, the name Christopher Nolan has entered the vocabulary of film aficionados and casual film goers alike. The majority of people associate Nolan with the reboot of the Batman franchise, saving the caped crusader from the clutches of his arch foe, Joel Schumacher. After The Dark Knight, Nolan directed a little sci-fi psycho thriller called Inception, heard of it? Of course you have. It hit the world like a hurricane when it came out and is currently nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards. There’s also another group of you going …. hey, don’t forget The Prestige. I won’t. Also a film that I thought was excellent, but obviously not amongst his most popular, but that’s what I’m counting on the other collection of you to chime in with …

Memento. In 2000, Christopher Nolan directed the critically acclaimed psychological thriller about a man with anterograde amnesia, making use of non-linear storytelling to tell a very compelling tale. The film geeks out there might get where I’m going with this though. This was not the first time Nolan had used non-linear storytelling. While a good amount of people know of Memento, a smaller faction know that his first feature length film was made on a budget of $6,000 and filmed on weekends with his cast and crew because they all had full time jobs. That film is the one I’m reviewing today. 1998’s own Following was in fact Christopher Nolan’s feature length debut, not Memento.

First of all …. I’m not attempting to go for a theme here … I know I talked a bit about “low budget filmmaking” and low budget filmmaking when I reviewed Six-String Samurai. Nolan’s first real outing was done in much the style I’m familiar with and as much as Robert Rodriguez’ success story is a beacon of hope for budding filmmaking, so to is Nolan’s. He just hasn’t written his version of Rebel Without A Crew yet.

Following is the story about a young man named Bill (Jeremy Theobald) … who’s a writer … who just happens to decide to follow people randomly. Bill comes up with a couple of pretty good rules, you know, like don’t follow women down dark alleys. It’s just not polite and pretty damn creepy. One of his other rules is that once he’s established where a person lives or works, he won’t follow them again. The problem occurs when he breaks his rule.

Cobb (Alex Haw) is a well-groomed man whom Bill decides to follow and — this time — things don’t go as planned. Bill follows his target into a restaurant, orders his food, and is then confronted by Cobb. After the initial awkward conversation, Cobb does reveal himself to be a burglar and this intrigues Bill who begins to accompany this man on his burglaries. Cobb isn’t a normal burglar. He’s articulate, handsome, and he has a romanticized notion about why he does what he does.

“You take it away… to show them what they had. ” — is just one of Cobb’s many poetic justifications for his actions. Cobb also has a particular knack for reading people based on the items in their homes, as he routinely showcases, including in one particular scene where Bill takes Cobb to his own apartment and pretends for it to be a random stranger they’re burglarizing. He feeds Cobb some bullshit about how the resident works at a bank — and Cobb calls it. Whoever lives there is unemployed, and basically a loser. At this point we can see Bill is becoming thirsty to become someone he’s not, to be someone more like Cobb.

He doesn’t just accompany his mentor anymore. He becomes an active thief, stealing items from the houses they intrude into. “Disrupting lives” as Cobb refers to it becomes a thrill for Bill, and this thrill ride eventually leads him to the home of “The Blonde” (Lucy Russell). After stealing her underwear, some photographs, etc. Bill becomes infatuated with her and decides to take up his previous habits and follows her.

The two begin a relationship and she tells him about the burglary. Of course, Bill plays dumb but continuously asks her how it made her feel. However, things are more twisted than they seem.

Relationships intertwine in ways you never see coming in this movie. While M. Night has been a hack for a long time, Nolan genuinely introduces twists and layers in a very natural way. The beauty of Nolan’s work is that he always knows what he wants to say and he says it. There’s a lot of nooks and crannies to be talked about, but one of the more simple and elegant themes of this movie is the individual. On any daily basis, you see hundreds of people that you know nothing about and this movie questions — ‘what would it be like to walk a mile in their shoes?’ in an almost literal way. Bill’s developed compulsion to follow people explores this and then adds the price to pay for doing so …. maybe it’s best not to pry into people’s lives. How much can you really know a person? What makes a person themselves? What they own? What they say … or what they hide?

I’m not trying to be some deep, artistic twit and I don’t pretend to be but there’s some real shit going on here and it’s not hidden behind Picasso-like abstractions. Just good old fashioned storytelling.

Following is what makes Christopher Nolan one of the greatest filmmakers to emerge within the last two decades. He’s brilliant. On a limited budget, with limited resources and time, he churned out a 69 minute neo-noir with stunning, simplistic visuals (each frame could be mounted on the wall, easily) and a compelling story. Yeah, the run time is short but Nolan told his story. Every last minute was worth it. There was no drag … and trust me … drag can really ruin a film.

As in Memento, the non-linear storytelling adds a lot to the movie. It’s important to see, for example, a scene where Bill says something only to travel back in time and see how fucking blatantly he lied. It’s important because it’s all a part of his downward spiral into this life. You get the feeling this wasn’t always him, but he’s loving the transformation and unfortunately for him, other people are loving it for the worst of reasons. Spoiling the ending would be a grave injustice, so I won’t. The point is if you’re a Nolan fan, do check out his original feature length. I expect a lot more good to come from this guy. I might cry when he makes that shitty movie that all good directors are destined to make, but I’ll bounce back and keep on supporting him. With $6,000 dollars he produced this, which gives him some serious cred in my book. Now he can make all the big budget, spectacle filled movie he wants because I know what he can do with barely any cash and just a lot of passion.

Kudos to you, Mr. Nolan. Kudos.

— Sabbath

Dub Cee Reviews: Book of Eli (2010)

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2010 by Dub Cee

 

 Director: Hughes Brothers

Writer(s): Gary Whitta

I have always had a somewhat akward relationship with the whole post-apocalyptic sub-genre of movies. I enjoy them more often than not but they are usually quite flawed and most suffer the same major flaw. Book of Eli is no different.

Denzel Washington stars as Eli, a wonderer on his way west. No place specifically mind you, just a general direction, west. On his journey he passes through a rebuilding town ran by a man named Carnegie. (Gary Oldman) Carnegie is obsessed over finding a specific book. Turns out, Eli is carrying the last surviving copy of the book. In an attempt to convince Eli to stay in town and thus give him more time to steal the book, Carnegie forces his lover’s daughter, Solara (Mila Kunis) to “entertain” Eli for the night. Eli rejects her half-hearted advances and instead the end up talking all night. In the morning Eli is gone but now has some unwanted followers. Somewhere in all of this is Carnegie’s main stooge, Redridge. (Ray Stevenson) Try as I might, I cannot figure out why this character even exist. He has a fair amount of screen time and some dialouge, yet he adds absolutely nothing to the advancement of the story. On a total tangent, Punisher: War Zone, still sucks.

I truly enjoyed the “look” of the movie. Some scenes are nearly black and white to account for all the dust in the air. The characters are clothed correctly and actually look like they belong in this world.

The movie does have flaws. The pacing is rather slow, which is the biggest problem films of this type usually have. A few questions go unanswered. Why is Eli’s back torn to ribbons? How did he escape his room? How did Solora escape the spring?

Overall, I thought Denzel was great. His fights scenes were pretty bad ass. Gary Oldman was just mediocre. Nothing special. Ray Stevenson just reminds me of why I hate the Punisher: War Zone. The jury is still out on Mila Kunis.

Grade: C+

Hey, one of the other Ramblers has already reviewed this movie. Check out the thoughts of Guillaume de Sade at

https://thereservoirblogs.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/guillaume-de-sade-reviews-book-of-eli-2010/

Dub Cee Reviews: Battle Royale (2000)

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2010 by Dub Cee

 

Director: Kinji Fukasaku

Writer(s): Koushun Takami (novel), Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay)

Book to movie adaptations are always risky. How far do you stray from the source material, if at all? If the book has a moral do you change it or remove it from the film? Battle Royale answered these questions. It did so correctly in my opinion.

In the not so distant future the world’s economic and political boundaries have been significantly altered and new governments are in place. The younger people in The Republic of Greater East Asia are not happy with the government and have caused problems for the adults. Thus the government created the Millennial Educational Reform Act as a means of creating paranoia and preventing the opposition from organizing. Basically, what this means is that once a year a group of students, right in that Junior High – Freshman age group, are shipped off to an island. Once there they received a survival pack full of food and water rations, a map, flashlight, and a random weapon. The weapons range from a pot lid, to a GPS locator, to a fully automatic Uzi. Each student is wearing a metal collar which is wired to an explosive. Through the game, sections of the island become “hot” meaning if you are in that area, the explosive will be triggered and you will die. To make things worse, the game must be completed within 72 hours or else every collar will be detonated. Finally, if nobody dies within a 24 hour period, the collars explode. So, basically, in order to survive, you must kill off your classmates and friends.

For those of you out there who have seen The Condemned with Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones then you get the basic idea. The only differences being why the people are being put through the game and that Battle Royale is well done while the Condemned ends up next to Death Race.

One slight drawback to Battle Royale is the amount of people involved. About 20 students are killed before the killing gets to a character we care about. However, the deaths come early and often in the start which basically offsets my minor complaint.

It is interesting to see the different approaches some students take. Some join together in a lighthouse and try to live a normal life. Even reprimanding each other for not washing hands before coming to the table to eat. Other feign friendship and working together to get close enough to steal the better weapon and kill their classmate. While others find themselves actually enjoying the experience. The psychological look into how humans go into that fight or flight survival mode is actually what this story is about. Not so much the kills but how the students deal with the killing and just how long before morality is tossed aside and survival becomes king.

I cannot say much more about the story or comparing to the book at risk of spoiling a lot of important information. I personally preferred the way the book ended vs. the movie. However, overall, the film strayed very little from the source material. Good solid movie.

Grade: B

P.S. An American remake is in the works for 2011. If it happens, I will travel to the shoot and will be witness to many… many unfortunate “ accidents” on the set.

Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 by chainsawcheerleader

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Screenplay: Justin Theroux

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson

Genre: action adventure, comic book adaption

 

Senator Stern: My priority is to get the Iron Man weapon turned over to the people of the United States of America.
Tony Stark: Well, you can forget it. I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one. To turn over the Iron Man suit would be to turn over myself, which is tantamount to indentured servitude or prostitution, depending on what state you’re in. You can’t have it.
Senator Stern: Look, I’m no expert…
Tony Stark: In prostitution? You’re a senator. Come on.

 

Sequels are often created due to the fact that the original film was well received and the studio which made the film now sees an opportunity to make more money. When a sequel is conceived for this reason, the film is not a vehicle to continue the story of the first movie. When a sequel is made for the purpose of money, it is more than likely going to be  a failure. If planned, instead of forced, the sequel has the potential to out shine the movie that came before it. Iron Man 2 has failed its predecessor and its audience.

Iron Man 2 takes place six months after Iron Man 1. As a result of revealing Iron Man’s true identity, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is hounded by the American government to reveal the secrets of his technology. His refusal allows Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), Stark’s competitor, to gain contracts with the government to build their own Iron Man model. While Stark battles the government, he realizes that the palladium in the arc reactor keeping shrapnel from penetrating his heart has begun to poison his body, which could ultimately kill him. His attempts to find a replacement have failed and the closer he comes to death the more he acts out. Stark’s true and few friends, Lt.Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) try to keep Stark under control as the villain Ivan Vanko, known as Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), tries to seek revenge against Stark. With the help of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Stark finds the strength to fight Whiplash.

Almost every movie in existence suffers from plot holes. The trick to the plot hole is often how the director structures the scene around it. If the scene is fast paced, often the audience will not notice it and  if what is occurring at the time that the plot hole is revealed is remarkable in some manner, then the audience can be very forgiving toward it. The issue with the numerous plot holes within Iron Man 2 is that they are so up front and in the viewers face, that it makes everything that takes place in the movie seem ridicules. Movies such as Iron Man 2 are more than entertainment, they are a form of escape. They are not meant to be thought provoking. They are meant for the viewer to sit peacefully in his/her theater seat, munching on popcorn, and forgot that after the next two hours they must return to their lives. When a summer block buster movie such as Iron Man 2 pulls the viewer back and out of the element of the movie to question the legitimacy of a scene, the movies has failed miserably.

Iron Man 2 is riddled with plot holes. One example of a plot hole is that the organization S.H.I.E.L.D. is left looking weak and pointless (other than promoting a future movie). The movie gives the impression that S.H.I.E.L.D.  agents are, regardless of time or place, everywhere. The issue lies in the fact that whenever a problem arises the agency never steps out from the shadows to help resolve the crisis. This is most prevalent during the Stark Expo. When an army of Iron Man drones attack the audience the only agent that is seen is the Black Widow. While the drones are shooting at the crowd, she runs off to try to capture Vanko, who is not where she assumes he is. This weakness leaves  one to wonder why is S.H.I.E.L.D. apart of this film and what exactly are they even doing when they are needed most. Yes, S.H.I.E.L.D. is being rebuilt and recruiting new members but Iron Man 2 displays the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. is not only made up of superheroes but of humans as well, which they seem to have plenty of. A second example of  a plot hole takes place when Lt. Col. James Rhodes steals an Iron Man suit. In the first Iron Man and now the second, a major feature of the plot is the reactor that is in Stark’s chest. The reactor is the power supply for the Iron Man suits and is according to both films, the only way to use the suit. The director seemed to disregard this and toss aside two major factors of both Iron Man films by allowing Rhodes to put on the suit and use it in order to steal it. This also raises the question as to how does Rhodes know how to use it? In the first Iron Man, a great deal of time was set aside to show the audience how Stark learns to use the suit. In a matter of minutes Rhodes steals the suit, fights Stark, and then flies away. Even if the director missed the opportunity to tell the audience that the suit had a reactor built into it that still does not explain how Rhodes can use the suit so perfectly and why the suit was not shut down with the computers in Stark’s lab when the Black Widow knew what Rhodes had done. A continuation of the pervious fact is that Whiplash is able to create his own reactor, that powers and is built into his own suit. Yes, Whiplash has done what might explain how Rhodes could have stolen the suit but he stole Stark’s suit, not Whiplash’s. The flaw with this is that in the first few minutes of the film, Stark sits before the American government and tells them that they cannot have the Iron Man suit/technology because the suit is powered by the reactor in his chest, therefore he and the Iron Man are one.

Aside from plot holes, Iron Man 2 is filled with instances that come off as more irritating then entertaining. One example of this is that the film is 124 minutes long and the majority of the action occurring at the end. That action goes on for roughly 15 minutes. The rest of the movie is used for character and plot development but sadly this information is given either too fast, too slow, or is irrelevant. A second example is the lack of depth to the dialog. While using the Iron Man suit and in pursuit of the attacking drones, Stark is given the worst one liner in comic book movie history. Stark tells Rhodes, “Drop your socks and grab your crocs, we’re about to get wet on this ride.” If Starks does indeed wear crocs, the character has just lost the respect of the majority of its audience.  A third example is what finally pushes Stark toward the end of the film to fight Vanko.  After telling Nick Fury that his father did not love him or show him affection, Fury gives Stark a trunk containing several items that used to belong to his father, one of these items is a home movie. While watching the film, Stark’s father talks to camera and tells his son that everything he has done he did it for him. Somehow after a life time of neglect it is these few words that begin to heal old wounds and give Stark the incentive to fight Vanko.

Iron Man 2 could have done what The Dark Knight did for Batman Begins, it could have been a well-thought out continuation of the story and an improvement of the movie that came before it. Instead, Iron Man 2 has more in common with Spiderman 3, then it does The Dark Knight. Iron Man 2’s dancing emo Spiderman moment takes place during his birthday party. While intoxicated, Stark begins dancing in his Iron Man suit. Not only does he dance, he shows the crowd how he urinates in the suit, and then shooting random things that his guest begin throwing into the air. Regardless of the film, every superhero must show a moment of weakness and at some point not use his/her powers for good but if this is Stark’s moment then the background music might as well have been “Staying Alive.” While this scene seemed as pointless as a dancing Spiderman, it helped allow Rhodes the opportunity to steal a Iron Man suit and give the film the chance to briefly discuss Stark’s issues about his father. All of which was incredibly pointless.

The climax of any comic book film is always the final battle between the superhero and the villain. Often it is this fight scene that can leave the audience begging for more or make them feel like they just wasted two hours of their time. Unfortunately for Iron Man 2, the final battle is short,  rushed, lackluster, and disappointing. The final battle may seem hurried because there is virtually no build up between Stark and Vanko. The villain, Vanko literally appears one day as Stark is racing a car, disappears, and then shows up for the final battle. With such little interaction between the hero and villain, Vanko seems to be more of an annoyance then an actual threat. At no point in the film is there a scene that helps establish Vanko as a true villain. The audience is given no reason to want the hero to defeat the villain. For many comic book villains their reasoning behind why they want to destroy the hero is often understandable. For Vanko, his motives are more juvenile then justified. Vanko’s reason is that his father and Stark’s father worked together on a project that would help create massive amounts of energy. Stark’s father wanted to use the creation for good, while Vanko’s father wanted to sell it and make money. For this decision, Vanko’s father was deported back to Russia. For this Vanko sets out to destroy Starks. Despite the fact that many crimes have been committed for less reasons, villainy requires more.

Iron Man 2 has a cast of well-established actors. While each actor has given noteworthy performances in other films, in Iron Man 2 many of the main supporting cast was either given very little do to or not needed at all. The best example of this is Scarlet Johansson as the Black Widow. For her role, Johansson is often seen more then heard. She spends more time catering to Starks, than actually fighting. While given only one fight scene, Johansson does the best she can with what is given to her. While taking place in a hallway, Johansson must fight through several guards in order to make her way toward the room in which Vanko is housed. It is during this time that the most over-choreographed fight scene in the entire film takes place. While using mediocre weapons that serve little purpose and performing acrobatic stunts on mere henchmen, the Black Widow character over does a situation that could have been solved with several punches. Sadly, Iron Man’s fight scenes were never given the amount of thought it took for this scene. If the director had paid as much attention to the final fight scene of Iron Man taking on Whiplash as he did with the Black Widow’s only fight scene in the entire film, then maybe the ending of the film could have been saved. The absence of judgment toward this lack of detail may be the result of Jon Favreau, the film’s director, playing Harold “Happy” Hogan. During the Black Widow’s fight scene, Hogan accompanies her and fights off one guard. While this adds humor, it also adds to the doubt of who’s best interest does the director have? His or the movies? Aside from this, the major problem with the cast of Iron Man 2 is that it tries to insert to many characters that will appear in Iron Man 3 and the Avengers movie. With so many characters it leaves the movie and the storyline a mess. As character after character is piled on, it makes Iron Man 2 feel more like an advertisement for other Marvel Comic movies then a true sequel.

At its heart, Iron Man 2 is a movie weighed down by a combination of plots and sub plots. The mixture of these plots clutters the film and proves to be another movie that tried to achieve too much while not being done very well. Had the director focused solely on Stark’s failing health and the introduction of Whiplash, the mess that is Iron Man 2 could have been avoided. In the end, Iron Man 2 is reduced to a typical Hollywood summer blockbuster. It is flashy, loud, packed with explosions, and beautiful women. While these elements are fun, the film has  lost everything that made the first Iron Man movie shine.

Iron Man receives a 5 out of 10

Side Note: After watching the trailer for Iron Man 2 I decided not to see it in the theater, which I believe was the best decision. From the moment you see the Ironettes dancing on stage you know exactly what you are in for, something pretty to look at but with zero substance.

Robert Downey Jr. is charismatic as always. Gwyneth Paltrow is whiny and adds little to the film other than screams. Sam Rockwell is one dimensional. Don Cheadle is flat and meekish. Mickey Rourke is given little to do other than smile a lot. Scarlett Johansson does little for this movie other than look good in a tight black dress. Samuel L. Jackson plays the same bad ass that has become his staple, only a toned down version. Obviously, the acting potential that the director had at his fingertips clearly escaped him.

Tigris Rose’s Indiana Jones Movie Marathon Review Part 1: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2010 by tigrisrose

Tigris Rose’s Indiana Jones Movie Marathon Review Part 1:

Join me now as I take a look at one of my favorite franchises. Not only is it one of my favorite franchises, it also brought to life one of my favorite characters since I was a kid. It joins my favorite character, with one of my top 25 actors, producer, and director. I mean seriously Ford, Spielberg, Lucas- Really how can you go wrong? ((I’ll explain why that is a dumb comment later!))

Now most people I would hope to god would at least know of Indiana Jones, let alone have watched the franchise multiple times. I mean come on USA Network just had a weekend marathon on last week.

But those who don’t’ know, you people who live under rocks, and inside of caves. Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr. is an archeologist, who is also a part time teacher at a local university. His alter ego, if you will, Indiana Jones, is an adventurer looking for the answers to the world’s oldest questions. Dr. Jones is a geeky, hot nerd in a tweed suit that all his female students love as they take his ancient civilization class. The alter ego, Indiana Jones is a rugged, scruffy, dirty example of the true adventurer. Always looking for the next treasure or lost civilization.

I’m not going to go into the story to much. Mostly because I believe most people have seen one or more of the franchise. “Raiders” takes place in 1936. And our hero finds himself in a race against the Nazis of a growing Germany, three years before WWII. Indy and the Nazis are both trying to find the biblical artifact The Ark of the Covenant. Which in the wrong hands would be disastrous of course Indy is petitioned by the U.S. government because they can’t officially get involved. Plus Indy’s mentor has the key to finding the Ark. Indy later finds that one of his arch rivals is helping Nazis. 

Enough about that lets talk geek. First off, yay 1930’s style adventure movies. But Indiana Jones reminds me of the Allan Quartermain stories, and I don’t mean the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, ((However, ironic… tune into the third installment of the I.J. Marathon.))

In “Raiders” Indy is at odds with an old flame as well with the Nazis and his rival throughout this movie. Indy’s Character over the years is defined by his look and the geeky side jokes that come with them. But as you see Indy the two most iconic wardrobe jokes his wide brim fedora, and his gun. The hat doesn’t become the joke till the next installment because the first movie he never loses it. It always kept on no matter what throughout the movie this time.
Indy somehow somewhere in the movie in the movie loses his gun or runs out of bullets at the worst times gets redeemed in the first movie. Ford was sick at the time of the famous gun scene. Ford had dysentery and couldn’t get the fight scene just right. Ford suggested he just shoot the swordsman and does. The gunshot scene was so great it was kept and the fight scene scrapped.

The most iconic scene that’s prompted animated cartoon, sitcoms, and parody spin-offs like the Simpsons. The boulder scene at the beginning of the movie nearly everyone knows it even without ever seeing “Raiders.” It’s a pop culture movie scene.

The cast in “Raiders” is top notch. Ford, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliot, Alfred Molina. Plus with Spielberg and Lucas at the reins makes this for a wonderful crew.

Indiana Jones brings back the iconic adventure, the rugged lover, the man with morals, without boundaries or fear. ((Provided there are no snakes around.)) It’s also one of those movies you either love or hate. But it’s a movie for all ages. I give “Raiders” a B+. It’s a good movie. It is campy. But it has a great cast, great cinematography, but it’s a little slow. And the effects especially the ending when they open the ark is really bad and campy. But out of the four movies, “Raiders” is number three in my book out of the four movies. I like “Temple” and “Crusades” more than “Raiders” but that is just me, most people would put them in their top two.

Stay tuned ladies and gents, I will be reviewing the other three installments of the Indiana Jones Franchise soon!!!

Sabbath Reviews: Six-String Samurai (1998)

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2010 by Sabbath


Directed by: Lance Mungia
Written by: Jeffrey Falcon & Lance Mungia

Sit down and let me teach you about the Birds and the Bees. You see, when a film genre loves pop culture and then decides to love another film genre, you get a Quentin Tarantino movie. Most of the time. Every once in a while you get something along the lines of the low-budget ($1,000,000 USD) apocalyptic samurai rocker film Six-String Samurai.

A little bit of self-publicity here. I make independent films — and by independent, I mean seriously independent, low budget movies. I’m a long way away from making a million dollar budget film, but regardless, since my next film in the pipeline is what I’ve dubbed an Elvisploitation, the word that another film exploiting The King was made on a low budget got my ears ringing. Now, I’ve watched Bubba Ho Tep and no, I haven’t seen 3000 Miles To Graceland though I’m sure I should. However, I really had no idea what I was getting into with Six-String Samurai. Part of me kind of worried that something similar to my script had already been done … in 1998. Honestly, with a name like Six-String Samurai I figured the less I knew about this film the better.

I ordered it on Netflix and read the blurb on the disc cover:

After the Russians lob an atomic bomb at the United States in the late 1950s, survivors flock to the neon lights of “Lost Vegas,” where Elvis Presley is a bona fide king of music and men, but when His Majesty dies unexpectedly, the city’s shiny throne is up for grabs. Armed with a six-string in one hand and a samurai sword in the other, rock ‘n’ roll hipster Buddy (Jeffrey Falcon) vows to make it to Sin City in time for his coronation.

 


Uh … yeah. No. Not my film at all. I discovered that quickly. I popped the DVD in and decided to see what it had to offer.

The opening text provides some back-story that the above blurb mentioned. This is some sort of revised American history where the Russians bombed us, America is some Mad Max-like apocalyptic world and Elvis is the King of ‘Lost Vegas’. The King is dead and now people from all over are trying to claim the throne. Enter Buddy.

Buddy looks a bit like … well … Buddy Holly. He’s a hipster with a guitar and a samurai sword and at least from what we see in the beginning, he’s good with the latter. The world is full of savages that he has to cut down by the sword on his way to get to his ‘gig’ in Lost Vegas. Unfortunately, while slicing down post-apocalyptic cavemen, he picks up a nasty disease.

And by nasty disease I mean a really annoying child sidekick. After saving his life kind of inadvertently, the kid follows Buddy. Our hero realizes this is a plot point that can go nowhere but down and tells the kid to stay fucking put. The kid being a kid doesn’t listen. He’s in for the long haul. Shit.

The kid doesn’t even talk. All he does is let out this whine/scream whenever he wants to get Buddy’s attention. Now, Buddy wants nothing to do with this little puke … but he’s our protagonist. Our gruff protagonist. Are you thinking I’m setting you up for the whole ‘He’s rough around the edges … but he’s got a heart of gold!’ movie cliche … well, let me tell you something.

Yeah. He is.

Now, to be fair, Buddy does try leaving the kid with the cannibalistic version of the Waltons, ditching him on the road with a broken down car and post-apocalyptic caveman approaching, leaving him with a Mexican midget … the works. Buddy just keeps having last minute changes of heart and goes to pull the kid out of the fire at the last minute. I know convention dictates it, but this kid really is damn annoying. And I know what you think we’re setting you up for. ‘He’s going to have a moment of bonding with the kid which will lead to him taking on a shine/protective role to the kid’, and boy let me tell you …

If you don’t stop getting ahead of me right now, I’m not going to write this review.

Yeah, they have that moment in the sand dunes where Buddy is practicing some spiritual martial arts stuff and the kid mimics him.

But here’s the curveball I’m going to throw you: this movie is pretty fucking awesome. Snotty kid aside, I really dug this movie. Buddy is just over-the-top cool, like the Fonz except with top notch martial arts skills and he’s a samurai sword wielding boss. The post-apocalyptic setting is a homage to obvious movies of it ilk, but I love the classic samurai film cliches. Even the whole samurai becoming protective of someone/something weaker is a cliche of the genre to itself and even though I find the kid annoying, I understand and appreciate the connection. The swordplay is also done in classic Japanese samurai film fashion and by that I mean both the choreography and the lack of bloodshed when the sword slices through a person. Yeah, I know, it’s also a budgetary thing but … it’s how things were done.

The marriage of the samurai film with 1950’s rock is also done really well. Throughout the film, Death himself — a Slash look-alike — with archer henchmen is eliminating the competition on the way to Lost Vegas. Buddy is obviously his top rival. Before the final fight, they have a musical duel of sorts and if the imagery didn’t do it enough for you, the music lets you know this is in part an allegory to the death of the classic Rock ‘n’ Roll of an era and the emergence of hard rock and heavy metal. It’s kind of like Don McLean’s American Pie with swords.

Six-String Samurai is definitely a niche film that’s going to have its fans and its detractors. It’s not a perfect film — it has its flaws. The child sidekick who just grates on my every nerve is chief amongst its biggest. The other — and this is completely bias — is that I’m not too sure where $1,000,000 went. I’m not saying the locations aren’t good, the costumes are great, and everyone (even the kid … but ONLY because he’s a kid) earned their paychecks. I just can’t help but think I could have stretched the money further. I don’t know. Once again, that’s just me.

What Six-String is though is … a really cool film. Cool is the word to describe it. Buddy is able to pull off the 1950’s hipster look, perform martial arts, swing a mean blade, and pull off a bad ass guitar solo. If you want to know my opinion musically? He kicked Death’s ass. He made me realize just how sweet a good blues riff could be and how even a mean electric guitar riff just cannot match its beauty.

Lance Mungia later went on to direct the much critically panned Crow installment, Wicked Prayer. I haven’t watched Wicked Prayer and it’s on my ‘To Do When I Really Want To Hate My Life For About 2 Hours’ list. I know that doesn’t bode well and might turn some people off to giving this a view, but I definitely say do it. If nothing else, it was a brave attempt to join a lot of different aspects of genre and cultures and the final result was enjoyable in my opinion.

Oh, and there was pretty much zero Elvis in this so any fears I had were squashed. In case anybody cared.

— Sabbath

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